Monday, April 06, 2015

Manga Monday: JoJo

JoJo's Bizarre Adventure - Part One: Phantom Blood (Volume 1)
Hirohiko Araki

Bizarre is right. 

Jonathan Joestar comes from a life of privilege, and is generally loved by everyone.  That is, until his new adopted brother moves in.  Dio's father has recently died, and Jonathan's father thinks that he owes the man, and so takes Dio in as his own son.  Dio has a grudge against Jonathan and derives sadistic pleasure from torturing him in any way he can, usually by implicating Jonathan as guilty of terrible things and making him look bad in front of his father.

This book is twisted.  Everything is over-the-top, from the characters to the circumstances.  It's very fast-paced and frantically heightened, which gives it a weird vibe.  This manga is from the eighties, so it does have a retro art style, but it holds up well.  That being said, I can't quite put my finger on why this was such a wildly popular manga in its day.  It is aggressively manly and pretty violent, so maybe that was enough to drive a frenzy around the book.  I, for one, just couldn't really get into it.  It was just too unbelievable how people believed Dio so quickly and absolutely, and it just kind of annoyed me throughout the entire book.  I also think it's lame that there is only one female character in this book, a love interest for Jonathan, and she is utterly pathetic.  Dio easily drives her away, and it's for an absurd reason.

Sure, there are a few things that are really cool about this book.  I love the blood-thirsty mask.  The rivalry between the two "brothers" is palpable and deliciously insane.  But Dio is just too evil.  He's one dimensional and one note, so he's not very interesting.  Oddly enough, Jonathan is even less interesting.  He has no personality except that he's "good."  Dio is evil enough that you root for Jonathan to overcome his trials, but do I care for Jonathan Joestar?  Not at all.  He is utterly dull, and is merely defined in this book by what Dio does to him.  We only really get to know him through how he reacts to Dio's evil deeds.  Overall, there's just not enough here to hold my interest.

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